I think this topic has a soft spot in all of us. I, myself, don’t have a very secure stance when it comes to “can men and women really just be friends.” It’s a touchy subject because I feel, and in all honesty, I haven’t had a male friend who just stayed as a friend from start to finish. I will say that I do have male friends where I haven’t had feelings for them but I can’t guarantee that they felt the same otherwise and also vice versa. I can’t help but feel neutral because I want to say that I truly believe there are people who can be “just friends” but I can’t back it up a 100% just from my accord. I used to be one of those people that would argue and say, “Of course we’re friends! Why can’t we be?” But the older I got, I’ve come to the realization that my thoughts on this have slowly changed. When I was younger (say, middle school and high school, perhaps) I believed strongly that we could be friends. But with college and now after, I don’t think we can indefinitely be just friends because you start looking for potential dates and marriage candidates from your friends since they make the best relationships. No one knows you and understands you better than your friends. And let’s be honest, after college, the dating field decreases at a very fast and insignificant level. College really is a marriage institution and if you’re like me that missed out, it only gets harder from here. Which is probably why the stability of friendships shorten as well since you have no where else to turn to for a decent relationship.
I used to have no problem hanging with the guys and not have any kind of crush or drama happen back when I was younger. Now, I subconsciously start measuring out random qualities that I see from my friends when something catches my eye that I didn’t see before. I think that we can be friends up to a certain point in our lives, and then at some miraculous level where we see something different, we end up falling for each other because of those interesting tidbits that intrigue us to dive deeper into the person. But with friendship also comes risks of messing up the said “friendship,” the timing can always be off because technically, you didn’t start the friendship to have a relationship, and sometimes if you’re lucky it’ll work out and sometimes we’re unlucky and it’s never going to be the same, ever again.
I have (notice it’s not “had”) this great friend that I’ve known since the second grade. For the purpose of confidentiality, let’s call my friend, Harry. Harry and I have been inseparable since our elementary school years and I can literally say that this friend has stuck by me through thick and thin. Harry is not only my best bud but he’s like my brother, my father, and my lover. I grew up having a truck full of bullies in my younger days because I wasn’t very sociable but Harry fended for me and protected me all the way through high school like any older brother. He was like my father when I needed any kind of advice and I had no one to talk to; he always had the time to lend a ear no matter what time of day or night. And he was like my lover when I needed a date to Homecoming or a shoulder to cry on about other . . . ahem, boyfriends. He had the kindest heart, the warmest hugs, and the softest lips. Harry was such the sweetheart and I knew it. I used to tell it to him all the time. And it didn’t once cross our minds to be serious with what’s in front of us, which was that we were both single and both looking just not looking at each other. The main reason, as always, was the timing. It was always too off for the both of us. It was the usual, “he liked me but I didn’t like him and when I liked him, he didn’t like me” scenario point by point. It wasn’t too hard to figure out.
Up until after high school, our little “drama” was just puppy love and nothing too serious so we both never cared much about it. We both knew that we’d always had crushes on each other here and there but nothing to where we would sit down and talk about it. It wasn’t until maybe my freshman or sophomore year in college where Harry had a little help from our good friend, Jose Cuervo, that he called and flatly asked if we had any future together. This really caught me off guard because up until all this time, it was just good fun and games. Even when we dated for about three months back in our senior year of high school, we never took anything so seriously, so why now? I asked him what came over him so suddenly. He replied by stating that we indeed have something special and definitely something we won’t be able to find elsewhere. We have history and a story to tell our grandchildren, about how he fell in love to the shy girl with the ponytail and floral shorts and tie-dyed t-shirts. How he forgot and fell in love again to the thirteen year old girl that was subconscious about her looks and acne-bombed face but still looked radiant because of the smile on her face. How he forgot again and fell in love with the sixteen year old heartbroken girl that worries she’ll never fall in love with the perfect guy again and isn’t afraid to bawl it out to let it all pass. And now, that we’re both older and wiser, and getting ready to embark on a new journey towards adulthood, wouldn’t want to go alone but together because it’ll be the best damned thing that will ever happen to the both of us.
After hearing that, I was terrified. This is the part where most girls would probably say yes and have their happily ever after. But to me, this was the part where I lay confused and awake for nights trying to figure out how he was so sure and how I wasn’t. He was willing to risk our friendship of thirteen or so years to fight for his happiness and wasn’t afraid of what he might lose if I had said no, but I STILL wasn’t sure because I was more terrified of losing him because I’m already halfway to saying no than saying yes. I was at a bypass. I know that a part of me wanted so much for this to happen but the logical part of me was stopping me for being rash. What if it works out? Sure you’ll be happy and would probably have a great relationship and even possible marriage. But what if it stops at relationship before marriage and everything breaks? Not only is the relationship gone but the friendship is gone with it. Why wouldn’t I be terrified? This is the problem of being a girl. We’re too calculating and we foresee too much into the future to make sure we don’t get hurt in the long run.
But the main thing is, I said no. And I have regretted it ever since I said it. The minute I actually said no, it all felt so wrong. Never in my life did I know at that moment I should have said yes, but it was too late. I couldn’t take it back. I already hurt his feelings and things weren’t the same for a good year and half after that. We didn’t speak to each other and we didn’t do anything to contact one another. In the end, he called me back first and we slowly rekindled our friendship. We had too much history to let it all disappear over one night of disagreement. Sure, our friendship wasn’t the same from before but I can happily say it has gotten stronger because of what we went through together. We had overcome and embarked another new chapter in our lives and we still care and love each other to this day.
Since then, Harry has been in a strong and long relationship with a friend from high school. He isn’t quite happy because he’s been wanting to marry since we graduated from high school yet he’s still a bachelor. He currently shares a home with his girlfriend and is waiting for the right time to propose but I personally don’t see it happening because she isn’t interested in marriage. When I hear and see these painful times that Harry has to go through, I sometimes wonder if I would have ended his misery or worse yet, maybe I would have been the very woman that is making him go through these hardships. I still care for and love him very deeply. Sometimes, from time to time, I’ll be honest but the feelings for him come back. But I don’t want to be the “other woman.” I would never do that to another woman. So, I genuinely wish they would get married soon just so I can finally be at peace with that part in my heart because Harry will always be my brother, my father, my boyfriend.